Many different kinds of infections of the teeth and the surrounding areas can be found in the wonderful world of dentistry. The mouth is basically a huge waste management plant, with many, many different kinds of bacteria living in there, all trying to do their best to keep your saliva sticky, to dissolve sugars and other foods, and to generally just be in there. If any one bacterium gets more food or resources than the others, it can carve out a little niche for itself in your mouth, and this is when terrible, painful infections and caries start to develop. Today, I wish to speak on one of the rarer forms of these infections, namely, pericoronitis.


Pericoronitis is the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the protruding part of your tooth, known as a crown. All pericoronitis is basically an inflammation of the tooth socket, with the tooth still inside (if the tooth is removed, it is “simply” a case of gingivitis), either partially, or completely below the gumline. The causes invariably are food detritus caught between the gum line and the tooth. 

Imagine for instance, when a wisdom tooth, a tooth very likely to develop pericoronitis, is partially erupted. Above and next to the partially erupted crown is the little flap of gum, and between that little flap of gum and your tooth, a bunch of food particles can get caught. 


The symptoms will be obvious. The area will swell up, and the surrounding gums will look reddish. There may be some bleeding involved as well. You may feel itching, pain or discomfort inside your gums as well. The area will be larger, as well. You may also experience difficulty chewing because of tenderness, and if the swelling is on a back tooth, molar or wisdom tooth, you may experience difficulty swallowing. If the infection becomes bad enough, you may experience discharge, bleeding and the rest of the signs of a severe oral infection. If the case becomes severe enough, you may need to get an extraction. Usually, though, you will be able to clear up with antibiotics.


When you go to the dentist, and you have some flap of gum overlapping your tooth, get it removed. It is the easiest thing to do, and while they are doing something else, it cannot hurt. If, for some reason (like the position of the tooth or nerves around the tooth) you cannot, make sure you floss under there, and use mouthwash whenever you brush. Make sure that plenty of the mouthwash gets underneath the flap, you may want to swish it around the area as well. If you can feel food being stuck there, remove it manually. Otherwise, ask your dentist about it, he will know exactly what can and cannot be done with the gums and the tooth in question.